Each May, The Stroke Association hosts an annual awareness month to help raise money and support for stroke victims and their families. The month also aims to raise people’s awareness of stroke to help them recognise the warning signs. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Make May Purple’, and there are many simple ways in which we can all get involved to do our bit for stroke awareness.
Stroke in the UK
Stroke is one of the most important health concerns in the UK, and every year, there will be around 110,000 people in England alone who will suffer a stroke. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the UK, and almost 1 in 4 strokes are fatal within a year. It is the leading cause of disability in the UK, and despite the incidence rate, just £48 per year is spent on stroke research per patient, compared to £241 per cancer patient in the UK. With more than a third of patients being dependent on care, more funding is needed to help those whose lives are affected by stroke.
What is stroke?
There are two causes of stroke: ischaemic (clot) and haemorrhagic (bleed). Ischaemic strokes are caused by a blockage cutting off the blood supply to the brain, which in most cases is caused by a blood clot. Haemorrhagic strokes are those which occur when a blood vessel has burst in the brain or on its surface. Because of the high pressure causing the blood vessel to burst, it’s possible this type of stroke can lead to more damage. As strokes can occur at any time, and many without warning, it’s important to be familiar with their signs and symptoms in order to get treatment quicker.
Symptoms of stroke include:
- Signs of facial weakness such as being unable to smile, or a droop in the face.
- Pain or weakness in one arm – a patient may only be able to lift one.
- Slurred speech or an inability to speak
- Blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Difficulty understanding the speech of others
- Sudden confusion, dizziness or a fall.
The FAST method is the easy to remember guide to helping a stroke victim, referring to checks for the following:
F – Facial Weakness
A – Arm weakness
S – Speech problems
T – Time to call 999 / 112 for emergency help
Make May Purple
Make May Purple is all about showing your support and raising money. The idea is simple – you can wear purple clothing to work or school, host a bake sale with purple baked goods, or even dye your hair purple (or wear a wig)! You can also show your support and raise awareness on social media by using the hashtags #MakeMayPurple and #StrokeMonth as well as getting yourself an action pack to help you create your fundraising event.
It’s likely that you or someone you know have been affected by stroke, whether as a victim or a relative. Understanding the underlying causes of stroke is important for us to help prevent it, as well as to ensure more effective treatment. By getting involved in Action on Stroke month, you will not only be able to do your bit to raise money, but much needed awareness too. For more information about stroke, visit the NHS website which has a comprehensive guide to tell you more about prevention, symptoms and treatment.